New year, new landscapes: industry experts share insights for 2018 (part two)

As 2018 begins, Hardscape continues its review of 2017 and looks ahead to this year’s trends with insights from leading figures in the landscape architecture industry.  

Bryan Wynne – Associate Director at Aecom

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

The influence of technology will continue to dominate and define the industry. Its exponential growth continues to steer all aspects of modern life, particularly in our working environment. Faster and better connected computer hardware and software is enabling us to work more freely, efficiently and with ever growing complexity.

AECOM recently announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with HTC Corporation to jointly develop and extend the reach of VR (Virtual Reality) technology to benefit the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. This is an exciting development, building on the company’s existing expertise in leading edge immersive technologies such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Microsoft HoloLens and Samsung Gear VR. Watch this space…

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

The profile and clarity of our profession, and by association the downward pressure on landscape education in the UK, needs to be better understood. The built environment professions (of which the Landscape Institute is a major player) need to develop a holistic approach to developing the next generation of built environment practitioners. Over-arching urban design training and awareness should be embedded into all educational programmes. Fortunately the Landscape Institute will soon be publishing a major review of landscape education and professional practice. The findings and implementation of the review will be critical in developing the industry’s future.

What was your stand out public landscape project of 2017?

I’m relatively new to AECOM having recently joined from Mouchel (now WSP). The breadth and depth of our business means we have a great track record in delivering successful high quality public places and spaces. Our work at De Mountford University in Leicester gets my pick as one of our stand out projects of 2017 – a £2m public realm improvements project transforming a former road corridor into a new student focused public space forming part of the Connecting Leicester initiative. The project utilises a series of rain gardens with aquatic/marginal plants as part of an integrated SUDs system as well as porphyry surfacing and bespoke granite benches.

If you could design anything at all, what would it be? 

That would have to be something interplanetary! Perhaps working with Space X to develop a permanent human settlement model for Mars. This would build on AECOM’s current expertise in resilient design (focused on building resilience in communities and cities as a way of coping with disasters). Planning for resilience on the red planet would be the ultimate design and engineering challenge.


David McKenna – Studio Associate Director at the IBI Group

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

Designing streets and spaces to be adaptable to multiple uses i.e. not just for traffic movement, but for social and economic benefit.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

We need to find a way to inspire more confidence in trafficked stone or sett paving for the local authority highways teams. We should perhaps review what has worked and what hasn’t in terms of trafficked stone or sett paving, so that we can honestly present a series of case studies to the local authorities.

What was your stand out public landscape project of 2017 and why?

Frodsham Street, Chester.  This was a pedestrian priority scheme, a form of shared space. It has transformed the economic and social environment of this street which, despite its heritage environment, is dominated by charity shops and pound shops. It’s one of very few shared space schemes in the country that has been praised by the blind/partially sighted community.

If you could design anything at all, what would it be? 

There is a lot of talk of Smart streets where the allocation of road space can be changed at the flip of the button.  This might utilise LED lighting to designate different parts of the street i.e. instead of a flush kerb.  This would allow the street to operate with a separate carriageway during periods of high traffic volumes, which could then be a pedestrian space the rest of the time.


Ian Fisher – Senior Lecturer at the Manchester School of Architecture

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

A return to regionalism and a respect for local identity in materials and vegetation.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

The contribution and value of vegetation to mitigate climate change.

If you could design anything at all, what would it be? 

Self-emptying public waste bins. It would raise the feeling of public ownership of urban space, in the UK in particular, immeasurably.

What was your stand out public landscape project of 2017 and why? 

The redevelopment of Ferdinando Savoia Square in Peschiera del Garda (Province of Verona) by CLAB Architecttura, Federico Signorelli. This square was originally used for parking. The designers, through the careful use of a very limited palette of “beautiful” and eternal materials, have created a range of fluid spaces, which flow in to each other and reference both past (the old dock) present (adding value to the UNESCO listed site) and future (providing opportunities for multiple programmes).


Mark Johnston – Director at Park Hood

What emerging trends do you think will define the industry in 2018 and beyond?

Health and wellbeing are key issues in today’s society and landscape design can encourage people to improve their wellbeing through creating places for exercise, social interaction and inspiration.

What one issue should the industry look to address in 2018?

Keeping sustainable design at the forefront of clients’ minds while ensuring the process is not about ticking boxes, but creating spaces where actual benefits can be seen and enjoyed.

What was your stand out public landscape project of 2017 and why? 

For me, the continued success of the Connswater Greenway in Belfast shows the benefits that can be gained from investing in quality landscape projects in terms of improved aesthetics, community pride and wide ranging health benefits.

If you could design anything at all, what would it be?

The concept of developing Greenways is growing across Ireland and it would be great to build on the success of routes like the Wild Atlantic Way by creating pedestrian and cycle friendly routes to link the wide variety of landscapes across the island.

 


2018 – the future of landscaping

What can we take from this? The responses from our panel of industry experts all show a running theme towards a more sustainable approach, with a focus on nurturing local identities and developing social values to create a happier, healthier world. Could 2018 be the year to bring us closer to this? We hope so!

See part one of this Q&A series here, where we invited more industry experts to share their vision for the future.